HARDWARE STORES

Advantage gains Ace Rewards certification

BY Ken Clark

Advantage Business Computer Systems, a subsidiary of ECi Software Solutions (ECiSolutions.com), today announced that Ace Hardware has given its final certification to their ECi Advantage business system software for integration with the Ace Rewards program.

The integration is a significant milestone for ECi, allowing them to fully service the entire spectrum of Ace Hardware customers. Both of ECi’s LBMH solutions are now certified. ECi RockSolid received its final certification in October 2011. 

“It extends our reach by allowing Ace dealers using an ECi solution to offer a valuable benefit to their customers, said Scott Stanford, president of ECi’s LBMH Division. “A rewards program is a great customer retention tool.” 

ECi Advantage is a full-spectrum business system developed specifically for lumber, building materials and hardware dealers. It is specific to mid-to-large-sized dealers who have a need to automate almost every aspect of their business — from quoting to invoice to point of sale and beyond. Ace Rewards is a retail incentive program that awards points based on dollars spent, provides members advanced notice of sales, members-only coupons, and allows members to submit rebates online rather than having to mail them in. Members also receive in-store discounts.

“Offering Ace Rewards to the consumer is very important to Ace Hardware dealers,” Stanford continued. “With the Ace Rewards program now available in our RockSolid and Advantage products, we are offering all Ace dealers — from the small, single location to the large multi-store center — a complete choice in business systems.”

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Got milk? Lawrence Bros. combines hardware and grocery

BY Ken Clark

A 16-unit supermarket company in Texas and New Mexico is taking the plunge into the hardware business at one of its stores. 

A 32,000-sq.-ft. store in Abilene, Texas, has altered its format to combine hardware and groceries., with 35% of the building dedicated to home improvement and repairs, according to an article in the Abilene Reporter-News

Another unusual operational feature of the CashSaver Cost Plus Food Outlet is its pricing strategy — described as cost plus 10%.

Lawrence Bros. operates 16 stores in Texas and New Mexico, and has teamed with Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware as its supplier. 

The combination of hardware and groceries was described as a groundbreaking partnership between a grocery store and a hardware business, but it’s not the first.

In Louisiana, Kief Hardware, a Do it Best dealer, offers a sizeable grocery business in a format called Kief Hardware Neighborhood Market. Menards also was an early experimenter in the grocery business, with several aisles in its big-box format dedicated to grocery staples. 

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Ellis Hardware reaches milestone

BY Ken Clark

This summer, a hardware store in Seneca, Ill., is celebrating its 140th anniversary. Ellis Ace Hardware opened in 1872, and 14 decades later, it’s still operated by the Ellis family. The location? Main Street, of course.

Behind the cash register these days is David and John Ellis, the fourth generation. David and John expanded the size of the store in the 1970s, quadrupling the size. David’s son, Michael Ellis, has also joined the operation, making it a fifth-generation business.

The store isn’t modest about its age — vintage photos decorate its Facebook page and its store. But this is not the kind of hardware store where some inventory turns about once every five years. Ellis Ace Hardware will refill your printer cartridges, and its Radio Shack franchise sells the latest iPhone.

They’re also famous for their caramel apples (with or without nuts), which usually come in around Aug. 31.

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